BEMIDJI, Minn. – After receiving its second highest ranking since 2011-12, the No. 8 Bemidji State University women’s hockey team will face its first ranked opponent of the season. The Beavers (5-0-1, 2-0-0 WCHA) will play a home-and-home series against No. 6 University of North Dakota (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA).
Bemidji State hosts the first game at Sanford Center at 2:07 p.m. Friday afternoon before travelling to Grand Forks, N.D. for the final game of the series at Ralph Engelstad Arena at 2:07 p.m. Saturday.
Beavers off to Strong Start
The Beavers have begun the 2015-16 season with the best start in program history by remaining unbeaten in the team’s first six games. With a record of 5-0-1, BSU eclipses last season’s mark when the Beavers went 4-0-0 to start the season before falling to Ohio State University in the fifth game of the season.
A Series for the History Books
Last weekend’s series with University of Minnesota Duluth was a program first for the Beavers, after sweeping Bulldogs for the first time in program history. Bemidji State opened the series with a 2-0 shutout win after junior goaltender Brittni Mowat recorded the 12th shutout of her career by stopping all 31 shots by Minnesota Duluth.
The Beavers then followed the performance in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 overtime win. BSU’s Lauren Miller scored the game-winning goal with 1:39 remaining in overtime. Mowat was once again dominant after stopping 31-of-32 shots in the game.
History was against the Beavers, as the Bulldogs have dominated the all-time series with a 62-8-2 record before the weekend’s games. Under second year head coach Jim Scanlan though, Bemidji State is 6-3-0.
A Look At North Dakota
North Dakota enters the weekend looking to remain undefeated after defeating Rennessealer and Minnesota State University-Mankato earlier this season. UND earned the sixth ranking in both the USCHO.com and USAToday/USA Hockey Magazine national polls. North Dakota comes into the weekend with the seventh ranked scoring offense and defense in the nation by scoring 3.5 goals per game and only allowing 1.75 goals per game.
Leading UND in points is Amy Menke who, despite not scoring a goal yet this season, has tallied seven assists. Meghan Dufault and Becca Kohler are tied for the team lead in goals with three each.
North Dakota has used two goaltenders so far this season, as Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Lexie Shaw have each started two games. With each posting a 2-0-0 record, Shaw leads UND with a 1.50 goals against average and .923 save percentage while Amsley-Benzie follows with a 2.00 goals against average and .857 save percentage.
North Dakota has one of the lowest power plays in the nation and rank 29th after only converting one goal on 12 chances (.083). UND’s penalty ranks higher than its power play and has stopped 17 of 19 (.895) chances to rank 11th nationally.
Moving Up and Leading at the Polls
The WCHA is tied for an NCAA-best four teams in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. The University of Minnesota remains the unanimous No. 1 in both rankings, followed by No. 2 University of Wisconsin, No. 6 North Dakota and No. 8 Bemidji State.
Bemidji State and North Dakota have met a total of 59 times in a series that dates back to 2002 and UND leads the series with a record of 35-20-4 for a winning percentage of .593. In the last five meetings, North Dakota has gone 3-2 and won the last meeting 5-1 on Jan. 25, 2015.
Senior Kaitlyn Tougas leads all current Beavers with eight (2g-6a) points against North Dakota in 14 games. She is followed by Whitney Wivoda, who is the current leading goal scorer against UND with four goals. Brittni Mowat is the only active goaltender to face UND and is 2-6-1 in her career with a goals against average of 2.50 and .895 save percentage.
For more information on the Bemidji State hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooden region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, BSU sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).